Motorists defying New Zealand ban on cell phone use while driving

15:11, May 28, 2011      

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Almost 12,000 New Zealand motorists have been fined since the country banned the use of hand- held cell phones while driving 18 months ago.

On average 650 tickets per month had been issued since the ban came into force in 2009, Radio New Zealand reported Saturday.

But the average was higher, at more than 700 per month, over the last 12 months, said the report.

The Automobile Association of New Zealand told Radio New Zealand the number of infringement notices issued was disappointing.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said it showed awareness of the law was dropping and motorists were becoming complacent.

He said people had to realize that using hand-held cell phones while driving was dangerous.

Police agreed that motorists might be getting complacent about the ban, said the report.

Drivers were banned from texting, e-mailing and talking on hand- held mobile phones from November 2009 after a series of phone- related crashes.

The government introduced a fine of up to 80 NZ dollars (65.54 U.S. dollars) for motorists caught using their phones illegally while driving.

Drivers can use hands-free devices and two-way radios, and there is an exemption for calls to the emergency services.

From 2003 to 2008, New Zealand recorded 482 injury crashes and 25 fatal crashes where the use of a mobile phone or other telecommunications device was identified as a contributing factor.

Source: Xinhua
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